With their turrets and flamboyant architecture reflected in the waters of the river, the Loire chateaux provide some of the most classic images of holidays in France. On Loire Valley holidays, witness the splendid architecture created for the French kings and aristocracy by Flemish and Italian craftsmen during the Renaissance. The chateaux and their intricate gardens make the Loire one of the country’s most beautiful regions.
The landscape of the Loire includes attractive – and famous – vineyards, as well as orchards and pastures, remnants of royal hunting forests and, of course, the magnificent chateaux. There’s no better way to explore the region than on foot or on one of our cycling tours, going at your own pace, and stopping to sample some of the area’s famous French cuisine.
On our Loire Valley tours you can cycle along the famous ‘Loire a Velo’ trail which runs for 800km alongside the meandering river and through idyllic landscapes. Between Tours and Angers ride among the ‘Garden of France’, so name because of its Renaissance gardens filled with rambling rose bushes and various other species of plants and flowers. Azay le Rideau and Villandry are particularly beautiful and are worth visiting on Loire Valley tours.
And of course, Loire Valley tours wouldn’t be complete without exploring the vineyards of Chinon and Saumur where you can pause to sample some of the world-renowned wines and cuisine. From intensely rich reds to crisp fruity whites, there is a wide variety of wines to suit all palates.
Loire Valley Holidays
8 Daysfrom£ 1,659
Self-Guided Holidays (Excl. Flights)
Explore the Loire Valley's majestic forests, vineyards, poppy and sunflower fields
5 Fairytale Chateaux to See on Loire Valley Holidays
Château de Villandry: The youngest of the chateaux in the Loire Valley, Château de Villandry was built following the Italian wars which took place between 15th and 16th centuries. Staying true to the Renaissance and neoclassical designs of that time, its interiors are elaborately decorated with silks, gilded features and stunning paintings. Once owned by Jean Le Breton, the interiors were redesigned, and the chateaux no longer showed evidence of its past life as a medieval fortress. Wrapped around the chateau are beautiful Renaissance gardens with ponds, immaculate lawns and water fountains.
Château de Chenonceau: Arguably the most striking château in the Loire Valley and one of the most visited, Château de Chenonceau is distinguished by its five-arched bridge that spans the River Cher. Its whitewashed walls and turrets create a dazzling reflection on the water, making it a much-loved subject for photographers and artists. As well as possessing such beauty, a rich history courses through the walls of the château. It was originally gifted to Diane de Poitiers in the 16th century, who commissioned the famous bridge, before being acquired by Catherine de Medici following the death of King Henry II. Catherine organised the first ever firework display in France inside the château grounds.
Châteaux de Clos Lucé: Made from tufa and red brick, Château du Clos Lucé has a distinctive façade that stands out from most other chateaux in the Loire Valley. In the late 15th century, it was bought by Charles VIII, becoming a second royal residence for the king. Also home to another famous French figure, it was later occupied by artist Leonardo Da Vinci and his art students and it even housed the Mona Lisa. To this day you can still see the frescoes which his students painted in his bedroom, study and the chapel. The most famous fresco, Virgo Lucis, was believed to have given Château du Clos Lucé its name.
Château d’Amboise: During the 15th and 16th centuries the French monarchy lived in the Gothic Châteaux d’Amboise, which teeters majestically on the banks of the Loire River. It too had connections with French artist, Leonardo Da Vinci as he was invited to draw the château for Francis I, and the chapel was to later become his final resting place. In contrast to its grand and beautiful exterior, a turbulent history lies within the ancient walls of the chateau.
Château de Nitray: An elegant and imposing building, Château de Nitray takes centre stage in the Loire Valley between Amboise and Chenonceau. Perfectly manicured gardens sprawling across 43 hectares surround the chateau and have been given national heritage status. As you stroll among turreted archways and vineyards, you can almost sense its history. The grapes that are grown in the vineyards are used in the production of some of the most famous French wines, including Sauvignon, Chenin, Cabernet and Chardonnay, and can be sampled on wine tasting tours at the chateau.
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